December 24, 2016

Make Your Own Gingerbread House | Day 3 自製薑餅屋

Make your own, homemade, recipe, hansel and gretel, Gingerbread House,step by step, guide, 自製, 薑餅屋, royal icing, decoration, how to
The back of our gingerbread house
By Published: 2016-12-
Dear readers, this is the last day!  I have to admit it, this little gingerbread house took longer to do (and a caused a bit of nervous hair tearing) than I thought it would...but what can I say, it was worth it.

There's nothing quite like a house made completely of candy and cookies, not when I was a little girl reading over and over again the fairytale of Hansel and Gretel and the little candy house they found nestled in the woods, and not even now when I'm all grown up and seen, well, lots of strange and wonderful things.  

When my little girl and I finally finished our little gingerbread house and it was sitting so pretty on our was just the feeling of magic...I felt almost as if we were transported to that fairy forest, looking through the trees, eyes big with wonder, peeking at a house delightfully  and completely made of candy, with a wicked wee witch hiding inside...

Make Your Own Gingerbread House | Day 2

how to make, homemade, recipe, hansel and gretel, Gingerbread House,step by step, guide, 自製, 薑餅屋, royal icing
By Published: 2016-12-24
We're making a Hansel and Gretel inspired gingerbread house!  This is Day 2 of our step by step guide to making your own gingerbread house where we construct the gingerbread house from the gingerbread shapes baked on Day 1.  It's house construction time!

Check out our previous post Make Your Own Gingerbread House | Day 1 to find the recipe for gingerbread dough, our downloadable gingerbread house templates and step by step instructions for making and baking the dough, .  

To find out how we decorated the candy house and get tips on which candies make the best decoration please see our next post Make Your Own Gingerbread House | Day 3.

Make Your Own Gingerbread House | Day 1

Gingerbread House, guide, hansel and gretel, homemade, how to make, recipe, step by step, 自製, 薑餅屋,
By Published: 2016-12-24
My favorite time of the year, Christmas season, is near to hand and, inspired by that age old Brothers Grimm fairy tale, we made a Hansel and Gretel themed Gingerbread House!!  Do you remember the part in the original tale where the brother and sister, abandoned in the woods and very hungry, find a life sized gingerbread house:

"On they walked and walked, til suddenly they came upon a strange cottage in the middle of a glade.

     'This is chocolate!' gasped Hansel as he broke a lump of plaster from the wall.

     'And this is icing!' exclaimed Gretel, putting another piece of wall in her mouth.  Starving but delighted, the children began to eat pieces of candy broken off the cottage." 
~Hansel and Gretel from Grimm's Fairy Tales, 1812

December 6, 2016

Almond Nougat Candy

almond, candy, Christmas, holiday, Nougat, recipe, soft, torrone, treat, 杏仁, 牛軋糖, traditional, italian, no corn syrup
By Published: 2016-12-06
Okay, I seriously like nougat a lot...a very a lot.  It's so festive!  And yummy.  Every once in a while I will splurge on prettily wrapped bags of nougats to nibble on,  bags that empty way too quickly into the tummy of the nearest nougat addict.  (Umm...that would probably be me.)  

The problem I found was that I always wanted to eat a LOT of nougat, darnit that honey scented soft fluffy whiteness interspersed with the nutty crunch of roasted nuts makes it just simply irresistible and addictive.  So I figured if I wanted to eat a LOT of nougie maybe I should try to make some at home and pig out standing in the comfort of my own kitchen.  

But then I got discouraged cuz there was a lot of stuff in nougat making like sugar 'crack' stage and glucose syrup and so on and I thought, meh...this is too hard.  (I've been struggling with sugar work...more on that later.)  

But then...then I found a classic nougat recipe that was really simple and straightforward to make, only three ingredients! and a bit of time.  With this traditional recipe I made my own Almond Nougat Candy (just in time for wrapping up as gorgeous homemade Christmas gifts!  After I nosh my way through the first batch, that is...) and what can I say, it's soooo yummilicious!  Gosh darn it, this freshly made nougat, just soft enough to be deliciously chewy, really beats the socks off anything you can buy in the stores!

November 27, 2016

Pear & Snow Fungus Tonic Soup 雪梨雪耳湯

asian pear, chinese, health, Herbal, Pear, recipe, Snow Fungus, snow pear, Soup, sweet, Tonic, 北杏, 湯 apricot kernel, 雪梨, 雪耳
By Published: 2016-11-27
With the change in the weather in Hong Kong really kicking in this month, the famous humidity of the long, long summer has dropped away, leaving cool and very dry days behind.  My little girl has a 'hot' nature according to Chinese Medicine, with dry skin, hot body and easy perspiration and thus the sudden dryness of the weather has inflamed her 'hot' nature to the point where she has also been getting a lot of nose bleeds.  

The Chinese, naturally, have a healing soup for everything and so there are plenty of soups that soothe the heat of the body.   I bustled myself down to the wet market today to get the fresh ingredients to make a little pot of the traditional Chinese healing and strengthening soup known as Pear & Snow Fungus Tonic Soup, or 雪梨雪耳湯, that helps to soothe and tonify the body to more easily make the transition into the dryer cooler temperatures of the autumn.  

November 15, 2016

Steamed Chinese Cured Pork Belly Lap Yuk 蒸臘肉

chinese, chinese bacon, Cured, Lap Yuk, Pork Belly, preserved meat, preserved sausage, recipe, steamed, 蒸, 臘肉,
By Published: 2016-11-15
Dear friends, it's time for those dishes that warm you up and provide you with the slow burning energy throughout these long chilly days.  I want to introduce the Chinese Cured Pork Belly, also known as Lap Yuk or 臘肉, a Cantonese preserved meat specialty that is sooo delicious and comforting to eat during the autumn and winter months.  Absolute perfection with a steaming hot bowl of rice.  

If you've never had it before, it's vaguely reminiscent of bacon being from the same cut of meat but, I think, even better in its own unique luscious porky sort of way.

November 8, 2016

How to Make Chen Pi Dried Tangerine Peel 陳皮做法

Chen Pi, chenpi, chinese, dried, homemade, how make, Mandarin Peel, recipe, Tangerine Peel, 做法, 自製, 陳皮,
By Published: 2016-11-08
Inspired perhaps by the seasonal chill finally blowing our way, I remembered this year, finally, to try making my own Chen Pi Dried Tangerine Peels (also known as Dried Mandarin Peels), or 陳皮.  These wonderful dried citrus peels are used as a flavoring agent in both savory and sweet dishes in Chinese cuisine as well as being used as an ingredient in Chinese medicine to help digestion and relieve nausea and cough.  

Every year come early autumn I've seen fruit vendors at the wet market making the chen pi, hanging the graceful loops of drying citrus peels topsy turvy from every nook and crook they could find and have always wanted to try making it at home.  

Chen Pi is, after all, what the Cantonese would call an essential in the Chinese kitchen, the flavor of this humble dried tangerine peel is out of this world unique, based in citrus but much, much more nuanced, with an aromatic slightly bitter taste that whets the appetite and prepares the palate for more.  As the Chinese saying '苦盡甘來' goes: 'When bitterness ends, sweetness begins.'

October 31, 2016

Sweet Pickled Purple Quail Eggs

Sweet, Pickled, Purple, Quail, Eggs, recipe, dyed, natural dye,  甜, 醃, 鵪鶉蛋
By Published: 2016-10-31
It's time for Halloween, little ghosts and zombies are waiting around every corner, greedy outstretched hands hungry for candy, candy, and more candy!  Instead of packing yet another bag of sweet candy for my little girl to take to school to share with her little goblin and princess friends, I thought to make a more healthy sweet Halloween treat.  

I ended up making these quick, easy, fun little snacks, the Sweet Pickled Quail Eggs, naturally colored a lovely ghoulish Halloween purple with the dye from purple sweet potato.  "These are monster eggs," I whispered in a scary voice to my little girl and she loved them, gobbled up 3 in one go and then asked for more and we are making another big batch for school!

October 26, 2016

Homemade Red Bean Mochi 紅豆麻糬

Homemade, Red Bean, Mochi, daifuku,  紅豆麻糬, 大福, 糯米糍, sweet rice cake, recipe, sweet mochi
By Published: 2016-10-26
I must confess, this little treat is something I'm deliriously, seriously in love with...ever since fateful day long ago when I wandered into that tiny mochi shop somewhere in Tokyo and tentatively bought one of the red bean mochi (expensive, I thought), bit into it and nirvana.  

It was a revelation, the mochi soft, gooey, sexy, oh so fresh and smelling deliciously of fragrant rice, the red bean paste so light, fresh and tasty.  Really it was an OMG moment...what food magic was this?  I mean I had had mochi before this point but hadn't especially liked them that much...they were usually so-so, dense, chewy things with slightly stale too sweet red bean paste tinged with preservative.  But these, these tender sexy things were out of this world yummilicous!  And thus I discovered the joys of the freshly made japanese mochi.  

While we in Hong Kong have the luxury to buy freshly made japanese mochi, it is quite expensive so I have been thinking to try to make mochi at home for a while.  Finally got around to it and was tickled pink to discover that Homemade Red Bean Mochi 紅豆麻糬 is not only really, really easy to make but really deliriously tasty as well.  Almost as good as that first red bean mochi I ate standing in the streets of Tokyo, if I do say so myself!  

October 19, 2016

Homemade Silver Pin Noodles 自製銀針粉

chinese, homemade, how to make, noodles, recipe, rice flour, Silver Pin Noodles, wheat starch, 米篩目, 米苔目, 老鼠粉, 自製, 銀針粉
By Published: 2016-10-19
Lovely, slippery, chewy, homemade, hand rolled traditional Chinese noodles!  Easy to make, these traditional Homemade Silver Pin Noodles 自製銀針粉 will have you feeling like you've time traveled to a past when folks gathered around the table, rolling the dinner noodles deftly with a clever quick hands, all the while chatting and gossiping of this and that.  

Really, while it's actually quite easy to make these noodles, you might want to make sure you have a few friends or kids to help you out, make it a noodle rolling party!

October 1, 2016

Silver Pin Soup Noodles with Roasted Duck and Mushrooms 火鴨冬菇銀針粉

火鴨, 燒鴨, 老鼠粉, 銀針粉, 冬菇, Silver Pin Soup Noodles,  Roasted Duck, Mushrooms, chinese, noodle, recipe, rat tail noodle, silver needle noodle, short rice noodle
By Published: 2016-10-01
I'm so happy to share this warming and deliciously cheerful soup noodle dish, perfect to take the chill off these wind swept autumn days.  There's nothing like a hot bowl of soup noodles to fill and warm your tummy when the weather turns cool.  

This tasty traditional Hakka 客家 soup noodle dish used to be found at street corner shops and small dai pai dongs 大排檔, but as of late has all but disappeared.  Which is a shame because it's really quite yummilicious and such a comfort to eat, slipping down the throat easily and tastily, noodles topped generously with a bit of this and that, a savory and homey feast of tastes and textures all tenderly nestled in tasty hot soup.  But never fear, it's quite easy to make a bowl of these Silver Pin Soup Noodles with Roasted Duck and Mushrooms 火鴨冬菇銀針粉  at home!  

September 24, 2016

Animal Cracker Cookies

Animal Crackers, animal cookies, recipe, animal cookie cutter,  school lunch, school snack, 動物, 餅乾
By Published: 2016-09-24
It's that time of the year when the kids are back to school...which means it's also time for packed school lunches and snacks!  And I have been that busy in my teensy tiny kitchen making all kinds of things for school lunch.  

One of my favorite things to make and pack into lunch packs are these cookies.  There's nothing to delight children more than yummilicious cookies in the shape of cute adorable animals!  

So you are's gonna be cuteness here today!  This is our take of that favorite little cookie, classically known as Animal Crackers (tho' why it's called crackers and not cookies I have no idea), inspired by those classic Barnum's Animal Crackers, the longstanding kiddie favorites that come in a colorfully decorated box.  Do you remember eating these as a kid?  I sure do.

September 16, 2016

Homemade Chinese Wheat Gluten Mian Jin 自製麵筋

chinese, homemade, how make, meat substitute, Mian Jin, mock meat, recipe, seitan, vegetarian, Wheat Gluten, 自製, 麵筋
By Published: 2016-09-16
I was super duper excited to try my hand at making Chinese Wheat Gluten Mian Jin, or 麵筋, because my dearest Grandma 奶奶 used to make it for us all the time when I was growing up.  Gosh darnit if by the end of the day Grandma didn't have a huge pot full of her homemade wheat gluten, soaked through and through and juicy with fragrantly aromatic soy and spice based sauce with luscious bits of slippery cloud ear, chewy lily bud and fragrant mushroom snuggled in between.  (See Grandma's recipe for Red Braised Wheat Gluten Kao Fu 紅燒烤麩)  

We would eat and eat and eat and there still would be more for the next day and the next.  I would sneak it straight out of the fridge when Grandma wasn't looking, savoring the chilled version just as much as the hot.  (I love eating at the fridge.  Weird but true.)  

I've had it in the back of my mind for a long long time to try making the actual wheat gluten myself just like Grandma did and finally got around to it.   I'm very pleased to report that making your own Homemade Chinese Wheat Gluten Mian Jin or 自製麵筋 is actually much easier than I thought it was going to be, verra verra tasty and you can make all kinds of mouth watering Chinese 'mock' meat vegetarian dishes with it.  Definitely a must have skill in your repertoire if you are wanting to go for Vegetarian Domestic Goddess!

September 13, 2016

Snow Skin Mooncake 冰皮月餅

chinese, festival, crystal mooncake, ice skin mooncake, mid autumn festival, recipe, Snow Skin Mooncake, traditional, 冰皮月餅
By Published: 2016-09-13
It's almost that time of the year again, the time of the glorious harvest moon, the Mid Autumn Festival 中秋節, a right jolly time in Hong Kong that all, the children especially, look forward to.  And why not?  A beautiful fuller than full moon hung high in the velvet blackness of the night, a pass to stay up and play as late as one wants, delicately beautiful lighted lanterns and myriad glow sticks in hand, and, best of all, mooncakes 月餅 galore to eat!  

We've already made the White Lotus Paste with Double Yolk Mooncake 雙黃白蓮蓉月餅 and the amazing Five Nuts Mooncake 五仁月餅, so this year we thought we would make the Hong Kong creation known as Snow Skin Mooncake 冰皮月餅, also known as Ice Skin Mooncake, a modern twist where the traditional mooncake fillings are wrapped in a delicate, light, mochi-esque skin.

September 5, 2016

Red Braised Wheat Gluten Kao Fu 紅燒烤麩

kao fu, Red Braised, soy braised, Wheat Gluten, Kaofu, recipe, shanghai, chinese, vegetarian,  紅燒, 烤麩, 素, 齋, 上海
By Published: 2016-09-05
Chinese cuisine is well known for its vegetarian fare, indeed whole Chinese restaurants can be found devoted to vegetarian foods only!  And if you visit a Chinese monastery you will often find the unexpected delight of enjoying a fine vegetarian meal during your visit.  (Chinese people always take very good care of their tummies, wherever they are.)  Do be forewarned, however, that just because it's vegetarian fare, don't expect the Chinese to give up their daily meat intake!  

Whaaaaaat the hey, you say?! 

What I mean is that Chinese vegetarian dishes are mainly based around 'mock' meats: mock duck, mock chicken, mock pork, you name it, they've got it.  And these fake meats are mostly cleverly made from tofu and wheat gluten.  

Determined to make my own vegetarian dish, I first made my homemade wheat gluten kao fu (see our kao fu recipe here) and then cooked up the classic Shanghainese Red Braised Wheat Gluten Kao Fu 紅燒烤麩, a simple yet yummilicious vegetarian dish of soy sauce braised kao fu wheat gluten, mushrooms, bamboo and wood ears.  Tis so satisfying to your tastebuds and filling to your tummy!

August 27, 2016

White Chocolate Lemongrass Cookie

butter, cookie, lemongrass, recipe, White Chocolate, 白巧克力, 餅乾, 香茅
By Published: 2016-08-27
Recently we've been dipping our toes into the wonderful flavors of Vietnamese cuisine (see our posts on Vietnamese Beef Vermicelli Noodles and Vietnamese Deep Fried Spring Rolls...yum!)  and so quite naturally have been using a lot of lemongrass.  You have seen it before of course, that green yellow stalk that looks for all the world like the dried twig of a tree.  This humble looking woody stick has flavor magic inside it though, giving the cuisines of Vietnam and Thailand some really awesome and unique flavors.  

Well we had a wee bit o' lemongrass left over and one day, while poking around an old chocolate cookbook, what did I discover but a recipe that uses lemongrass and white chocolate together in one cookie!  Strange combination but it caught my imagination.  So we tried it.  

And what do you know, these White Chocolate Lemongrass Cookies were really quite good, the sweet mellow creaminess of white chocolate and aromatic butter complemented by the exotic citrus ginger notes of lemongrass.  A definite must bake for any fan of lemongrass!